Nick and Nora’s Day at Sea

In the cigar lounge of the good ship Langhorne, cruising the coast of Spain, the tobacco smoke, even when blown to the coffered ceiling through ancient dentures, is way heavier than air. It descends like gasified cashmere. It wraps us in the easy rhythms and baby’s-breath vowels of Cuban Spanish.

I ask the nice lady behind the bar for Havana Club rum. It’s embargoed at home, but the hall monitors of US Customs cut no ice out here on the high seas. The drinks are free, just like the food, and I congratulate myself on an excellent choice of vessel. Passage on the Langhorne isn’t cheap, but once this floating retirement community casts off we are kept till journey’s end like house cats in the lap of its benevolent regime. Abaft lies disillusioned Cartagena, with its empty shops and shuttered restaurants, in the white glare of the Andalusian summer.

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